The 2019 Texas Girls Collaborative Project (TxGCP) Million Women Mentors – Texas (MWM-TX) Stand Up for STEM High School Award was presented to Vandegrift High School’s Viperbots Hydra.

The award recognizes a STEM High School Student or Student Group/Organization engaged in mentoring women and/or girls in STEM. Awardees must demonstrate a passion for encouraging girls and women to pursue a STEM career, embrace available STEM activities and demonstrates leadership in these activities, and inspire others by showing enthusiasm and commitment to pursuing a STEM career.

Viperbots Hydra is actively engaged in role modeling and mentoring. A large focus of Hydra’s community outreach is to encourage young girls and women to get involved with STEM and robotics, whether it be through outreach to local elementary or middle schools or driving an hour to The Science Mill, a STEM-focused children’s museum in Johnson City.

One of the outreach events they attended and supported was the Girl Scouts Badge Day at The Science Mill. Viperbots Hydra hosted a booth with a robot demo and a “build-your-own-bot” activity for 400 total attendees including 195 Girl Scouts of Central Texas. While some of the team helped the young girls build their bots, other young women on the Viperbots Hydra team talked to parents and siblings about the many exciting opportunities provided by school robotics teams.

Team member Mia Thompson shared her experience in the nomination: “This event was a real wake up call for me. Before, I had not had my full heart into the task of encouraging others to pursue STEM, as I, myself, hadn’t even felt passionate enough about STEM to make others passionate about it. But, seeing the many girls’ faces light up at the sight of their robot coming to life, seeing something that they created with their own hands, sparked something in me. I was never as involved with STEM when I was younger, so teaching these girls how to create something they may have never even thought of before made it feel like I was teaching this younger version of myself.”